GOVERNANCE

Social accountability can help strengthen healthcare systems

There is need to move from transparency to accountability.

In Summary

• Citizens’ engagement is integral to supporting social accountability and strengthening democracy.

• However, how to effectively provide for citizen engagement and social accountability is more ambiguous.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto inspect medical equipment procured through the Managed Equipment Services project at State House, Nairobi
GLOBAL PROJECT: President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto inspect medical equipment procured through the Managed Equipment Services project at State House, Nairobi
Image: PSCU

Other than having a well-designed health system, universal healthcare equally depends on a financial system that assures adequate resources for equitable use. This can only happen if all people receive quality health services they need without suffering financial hardship.

According to the World Health Organization, there are about a billion people around the globe without any access to healthcare. In Kenya, while access to quality healthcare is a constitutional right, millions of Kenyans still struggle to afford payment of treatment at either public or private clinics, including people with public health insurance. Such barriers do not only impact on the health status of people but also contributes to societal inequities and undermine sustainability of social and economic gains.

This is despite the government taking huge loans from World Bank and the IMF, among others. How have the citizens benefited from the cash?

Look at the health system, why can’t the government use the money improve the health system?

Now, famous Kenya Sevens former head couch Benjamin Ayimba fundraising for his treatment. Luckily for him, the government and other influential individuals, who can easily come to his aid, know him. What of those in the rural areas who don’t know how to manoeuvre even on social media or have no connections with anyone in the government?

Politics is the most profound driver for change in our country today. Citizens are calling for greater integrity and end of corruption in government.

Nearly one million Kenyans fall below the poverty line because of healthcare-related expenditures every year. Expanding health access will reduce this burden.

Citizens’ engagement is integral to supporting social accountability and strengthening democracy. However, how to effectively provide for citizen engagement and social accountability is more ambiguous. The impact of the modalities through which Kenyans make demands on the degree to which they feel empowered to trigger recognition and action from government remains an open question. Empowering citizens and making governments more accountable, closing the gap between what citizens want and what governments actually do will aid in Social accountability.

There is need to move from transparency to accountability. Increasing transparency on its own does not ensure accountability. We need to use data to coordinate monitoring of national commitments. Our government needs to adapt approaches to address the specific cultural values, social norms and varying levels of democratic practice and impunity in different counties.

Kathia is NAYA youth advocate